The setting: wild shopping sprees, outrageous parties… and wait, was that a Gucci claw machine at a one-year-old’s birthday party?
It’s easy to write off Bling Empire as an over-the-top, crass reality show. Let’s be real: there were cringe-worthy moments such as when Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr Gabriel Chiu’s wife, Christine, spoke about sponsoring orphans in China as door gifts for guests at her Lunar New Year party held on Rodeo Drive—yes, that famed street in Los Angeles which she rented for a night in the first episode of the Netflix reality show.
So when I started watching with these expectations, the one thing I did not expect to happen was to sympathise with any of them, let alone get teary-eyed.
I wasn’t the only one who was moved by the show either. A friend’s text had come in: Two episodes in and I cried! I need to DM Cherie on Instagram.
She was referring to Cherie Chan, a heavily-pregnant heiress to a denim empire who had recently lost her mother, and she was having difficulties finding closure in that loss.
The themes of parental-child relationships and loss are at the centre of many of the cast members' storylines, including model and international DJ Kim Lee who finally decides to look for her biological father only to realise that he had passed on before they could even reconnect. Model and fitness coach Kevin Kreider had also attempted to seek the same reconnection for himself. He was adopted into a Caucasian family in Philadelphia when he was a toddler and now wants to seek his birth parents in South Korea.
(Related: Bling Empire: 6 Things to Know About the New Netflix Reality Show)